By Laurie Jakobsen
I was recently asked what my most-recommended music industry books were, and thought I would also share them here. I’ll admit upfront I’ve had a personal connection to a few of these authors, but hopefully that does not make their work less brilliant:
The Mansion on the Hill and Fortune’s Fool by Fred Goodman acheive both page-turning readability with serious industry cred. This two-book series – the first chronicling the rise of the modern commercial record business through the careers of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and David Geffen, and the latter using the trajectory of Edgar Bronfman, Jr. to show how the industry floundered into the era of digital. Meaty stories with serious insider detail from a master journalist.
If you want more in the spirit of Mansion, then also check out Hit Men by Fredric Dannen, which was considered a major industry expose in 1990, and also The Label (History of Columbia Records) by Gary Mamorstein, and Exploding (History of Warner Music) by Stan Cornyn. While these label history books can start to feel like that part in the Bible that lists everyone who begat everyone else, they remind us that the music industry is a game of relationships, above all else. The story of Columbia essentially parallels the entire history of recorded music, and the Warner tale brings more of the development – and then conglomeration – of the independent labels.